The United States on Sunday warned Russian president, Vladmir Putin, there will be consequences if Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny dies in prison after doctors warned his health is failing amid hunger strike, as the Opposition politician’s team called for mass protests across Russia to help save his life.
Navalny, 44, began a hunger strike on 31 March to demand proper medical treatment for back pain and numbness in his legs and hands. His press secretary on Saturday warned that he ‘is dying’ while Moscow insists he is being given adequate care.
US president Joe Biden’s national security advisor said Washington had warned the Kremlin that it would be “held accountable by the international community” if he died.
France, Germany and the European Union on Sunday joined a growing international chorus of protest at Navalny’s plight, and EU foreign ministers will discuss the situation on Monday.
US national security adviser, Jake Sullivan said on Sunday April 18 that Biden is weighing up a range of responses if Navalny dies, while refusing to go into specifics and that Russia is aware of the threat.
There was no immediate reaction from the Kremlin but the Russian ambassador in London, Andrei Kelin, said Navalny “will not be allowed to die in prison.”
“But I can say that Mr Navalny, he behaves like a hooligan,” Kelin told the BBC.
The US’s position comes after Yaroslav Ashikhmin, a doctor acting on behalf of Navalny’s family, said test results carried out in prison show dangerous levels of potassium in his blood along with signs of kidney failure.
‘Our patient could die at any moment,’ Ashikhmin warned.
On March 15 Navalny uploaded his first Instagram post from inside jail, likening conditions to ‘a concentration camp’ alongside an image of him with a shaved head.
On Saturday Biden called Navalny’s treatment ‘unfair’ and ‘totally inappropriate’ when asked about it during a round of golf.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called Navalny’s detention “politically motivated” and said “Russian authorities are responsible for Mr Navalny’s safety and health”.
German foreign minister Heiko Maas meanwhile said “we urgently demand that Alexei Navalny receive adequate medical treatment and access to doctors he trusts”.
His French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian added that the EU was watching Navalny’s case and warned of possible further EU sanctions against Russia.
Navalny’s doctors said his blood potassium levels were at 7.1 mmol (millimole) per litre, significantly higher than the 6.0 level which usually requires immediate treatment.
“Alexei is dying,” spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh said on Saturday. “With his condition it’s a matter of days.”